Malcolm Gladwell has a new article. That sentence alone sends me to read the article immediately. He is the most curious of writers, and such a good and thorough storyteller.
His latest, Overdrive: Who really rescued General Motors? is based on the book Overhaul by Steven Rattner, and tells the story of the overhaul of General Motors. It is filled with insight. But this section jumped out at me:
Kristin Dziczek, of the Center for Automotive Research, estimates that the “new” G.M. is roughly eighty-five per cent the product of the work that Wagoner, in concert with the U.A.W., did in his eight years at the company and fifteen per cent the product of Team Auto’s efforts. That seems about right: car companies stand or fall, ultimately, on the strength of their product, and teaching a giant company how to build a quality car again is something that can’t be done on the private-equity timetable.
This is business success in a nutshell. After all is said and done, the quality of the product makes all the difference.
A few years ago, I was driving out in Lewisville (near Dallas), and noticed a new large store. I don’t remember the name, but walked in to check it out. It was clearly some kind of Container Store knock-off. They were trying to out Container Store The Container Store. What an impossibility! The Container Store oozes quality, along with its superior and legendary customer service. This store looked similar – but a walk though the aisles told me quickly that the quality was simply not a match. This was a counterfeit, a pale imitation… And, predictably, the store is long gone.
Whatever your business is, here’s your real test: how’s your quality? If it’s not the best, the top…if you don’t ooze quality, then your work is cut out for you. Get to work on quality. Only after the quality is there can you do all that other stuff that is needed for success.